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Stroke Smart Magazine

March/April 2007

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Ron Gardner

By Jane Sims

Is it possible that the power of positive thinking can triumph over personal tragedy?

Nine years ago, Ron Gardner had a stroke that paralyzed his right side and left him unable to speak. At 43, he was determined to reclaim his fast-paced life as a family man and successful motivational trainer and speaker. From the start, Gardner made a conscious decision to transform a devastating situation into a life-affirming opportunity.

“I had this unfortunate event happen to me, but I chose to look at the good aspects that came out of it,” he said.

With determination, faith and an optimistic attitude, Gardner regained his ability to walk and talk within one year. In the process, he gained wisdom that enabled him to embrace his own life and inspire others to do the same. “It's ironic. Before my stroke I was a motivational speaker who talked about determination and motivation,” he said. “Afterwards, my experience gave me a powerful testimonial about the power of attitude and hope.”

For more than 25 years, Gardner has taught people how to achieve their goals with the power of positive thinking. In 1995 he founded Gardner Training Resources, a consulting service that teaches motivational skills to businesses. In 2003, the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce in Delaware awarded Gardner as a Small Business Entrepreneurial Advocate.

These days, Gardner inspires stroke survivors and their families to overcome adversity by using the powers of the mind, body and spirit. In his speeches and forthcoming book, Gardner offers his inspirational approach to wellness and healing. “I give a dual message,” said Gardner. “I tell people that it's important to stay on the wellness track,” he said. “I also encourage them to focus on what they have, not on what they don't have, and not on what they've lost.”

Gardner had never considered himself at risk for stroke. “I always thought it happened to the other guy, but then I became the other guy,” said Gardner. He had no family history of stroke and no symptoms except frequent headaches.

“I now talk about the importance of staying healthy in this hectic life, including taking the time to monitor your blood pressure, eat properly and exercise,” he said. “I also encourage people to focus on the positive aspects of life. It doesn't do any good to dwell on problems. Just keep moving forward!”

The road to recovery is not always smooth, and setbacks should be expected along the way. “For a while, my recovery stayed on a plateau and I became very frustrated,” said Gardner, who has a residual limp and problems with his right hand. “I couldn't get my arm up as high as I wanted. Eventually I realized that if I could get my arm up one inch higher today than I could yesterday, that's great progress!”

Gardner's story underscores the power of positive thinking, which has enabled him to live an active, fulfilling life and even enjoy new accomplishments along the way. “I'm able to experience joy every day,” he said. “I'm still frustrated with my limp. But I found I could walk through the entire Disney park with my family!” It's the little things that mean the most.

Look for Gardner's new book, “Take Brave Steps for Stroke Survivors and Families: A Message of Motivation and Hope.” It should be available later this year. Feel free to visit www.gardnertraining.com for more information on Gardner and his book.


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National Stroke Association’s mission is to reduce the incidence and impact of stroke by developing compelling education and programs focused on prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and support for all impacted by stroke.

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